Miss Migraine Runs: Part Two

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The Adventures of Miss Migraine is an ongoing column about my life with chronic migraine. June is National Migraine and Headache Awareness Month. Help me raise $300 to support migraine research and awareness!

Despite my runner’s knee not really being cleared up, we decided to wake up at 5 a.m. and resume our 5k training program this morning.

Despite painful knees, I’ve tried to still do some form of exercise 5 days a week, whether it’s going for a walk or using the elliptical.

I am not a morning person. Never have been, probably never will be. I’d much rather run at 8 or 9 p.m. than wake up before the freaking sun rises. But, I’m getting ready for a monologue show in a few weeks, and I’ve got evening rehearsals all this week and next week. Early morning is the only time we could run, so that’s what we did.

And hey–it wasn’t as awful as I expected it to be! Waking up was easy enough. I laid my running clothes out last night, so all I had to do was pull them on. I ate an apple, leashed up the dog, and off we went.

Over the past three months, I’ve increased my overall activity level. Each bar represents a week’s worth of steps.

This week the program has us running varying intervals of 90 seconds and 3 minutes. The first set of runs were fine. My knees ached a little but it wasn’t bad. But then we did the second set, and I definitely should have stopped because it felt like my knees were on fire. But I am stubborn as fuck, so I finished the workout and then spent a good long while icing my knees. Surprisingly now they feel pretty okay, which means I’ll probably be stupid and run again Wednesday morning.

Running and walking has also been helping me with the grief of losing my corgi dog Lexi–it’s not that I miss her less or feel less sad, it’s just that being outside and working my body provides a good expression for those emotions. I think it’s helping Jaina cope, as well.

Now I just need my knees to stop hurting!


Miss Migraine Runs: Part One

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The Adventures of Miss Migraine is an ongoing column about my life with chronic migraine. June is National Migraine and Headache Awareness Month. Help me raise $300 to support migraine research and awareness!

Okay, so. I’ve been talking about the Miles for Migraine June Virtual event for awhile now, but I haven’t given many details on what I’ve actually been doing to train for a 5k race in August. Well, here we go.

D.J., Jaina, and I began running using the Zen Labs Fitness C25K (Couch to 5k) app on May 21. The program includes three 30-minute workouts each week. You alternate running with walking to build up your cardio fitness level and leg/joint strength. The amount of time you spend running increases each week by a small amount. The program also focuses on time instead of distance to keep you motivated through the beginning. The distance aspect comes in later, when you’re closer to being able to run a full 5k without stopping.

We went camping last weekend, but we still got our Friday run in!

Since we began, we’ve only missed one run (for a good reason). Somehow, I’ve gone from a “OMG I HATE RUNNING” to an “OMG WHEN CAN WE RUN” person, despite persistent asthma attacks. Having a challenging but doable training plan really helps, as does having two running partners. Jaina views our 30-minute training runs as a good warmup. When we get home, she picks up her ball and asks us to throw it for her! I also got a new inhaler from my doctor, which I’m supposed to use before we run to prevent an attack. So far it seems to be working pretty well!

Unfortunately, I seem to have injured my right knee on our last run. I’m really set on running a race in August, so this week I’m icing my knee, wearing a brace, and doing low-impact cardio instead of running. I’m also going to try a few things for our runs to prevent re-occurrence in the future. I have flat feet, my ankles over-pronate like crazy, and I have plantar fasciitis in my right heel because of it, so right knee soreness seems inevitable, but also treatable. Of course, if my doesn’t get better in a few days, I may need to adjust my plans.

This is a huge bummer. I want to run! I feel like I need to run! I even want to run through the pain, but I know that’s a terrible idea, so I’m forcing myself to stick with the elliptical this week. If you want to encourage me, you could drop a little cash money on my Miles for Migraine fundraising page. That will definitely boost my morale. ;p

I understand that not everyone has a ton of disposable income, so there are a number of ways you can support me this month:

  1. Make a donation to Miles for Migraine through my fundraising page.
  2. Share my fundraising page with your social networks.
  3. Reach out to someone living with chronic migraine and let them know you care. If you’re able, offer to do something nice for them, or send an encouragement card or small token (just lay off smelly lotion or candles, as perfume can trigger migraines).
  4. Remind your friends and family that migraines aren’t just “bad headaches.” They’re part of a debilitating disease that has no cure, and they affect more than 30 million Americans.

Of all these things, number three is the most important, and the easiest.

Miss Migraine Gets Angry

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The Adventures of Miss Migraine is an ongoing column about my life with chronic migraine. This post appeared first on my blog of the same name on November 21, 2012.

When my husband got laid off in September 2012, we had to purchase our own health insurance (Note: This was pre-ACA). This was not an easy task. I had to make sure to get a plan that had reasonable specialist co-pays, that covered all of our medications, that included chiropractic and behavioral services, AND that didn’t cost a million dollars. Overall, I’m pretty satisfied with the insurance. It’s not cheap and it’s not as good as what we had under my husband’s job, but it does what we need it to do.

Except when it comes to my abortive medication, namely, Maxlt.

Oh, sure, the insurance company says, we’ll let you refill that–but you only get nine pills (yes, we know your doctor prescribed you twelve pills per month) and we’re going to charge you $280! But wouldn’t you rather just take Imitrex? I mean, we’d really like you to take Imitrex. We think it’s way better than Maxlt. And you can trust us, even though we aren’t doctors or nurses. We’re an insurance company! We know what we’re doing!

(In case it wasn’t clear, the above paragraph was sarcasm.)

I knew that when I started this blog, and decided to sub-title it “A Girl’s Adventures in the United States of Pain,” that I was eventually going to have to talk about how ridiculous and (pardon my French) fucked up our healthcare situation is.

The Affordable Care Act is making things better for a lot of people, me included. Making insurance companies provide birth control with no copay is a huge thing. But what the Affordable Care Act does NOT do is force insurance companies to cover non-birth control prescriptions at a reasonable co-pay.

Let’s just say I’m furious.

I was even more furious when I called the insurance company and asked for the reason for the quantity limit. FDA regulation, they told me. Well, that’s blatantly false! Teri Robert covers this issue in her book Living Well With Migraine Disease, but basically, the FDA suggests a max of 3 pills per week to avoid rebound headaches. That works out to 12 pills per month.

My doctor’s office has clearly run into this problem many times. When I called them, they said they would send a form over asking for coverage and a quantity increase, and that it was almost always granted. This is definitely good news, but just because I will probably get the medication I need doesn’t mean I’m going to stop fighting this.

Living with migraines is a kind of hell. No one should have to suffer through more hoops and stupid red tape because an insurer wants to save a few bucks. On Monday, I’m going to be making a few phone calls.

Post script: This has since happened to me many more times. Now my co-pay for my abortive medication is $80 for 12 pills, and my new insurance company also tried to limit me to 9, citing the same “FDA regulation” as the previous one. Sigh.